Sunday morning we finally closed the door to our flat for the last time. We loaded up the bikes and said goodbye to our neighbours, Martino and Emma. They even made us some muffins and waved us off as we wobbled around the first corner. ||
The bikes were slightly heavier than during our test rides. They felt fine on flats and downhill, but uphill we really went at snails pace. We cycled out of Ealing and through Notting Hill and Hyde Park. Arriving at Buckingham Palace, the Changing of the Guards was in full swing when we met Gerry and Dom who had come out to accompany us on our first day’s cycling.
We took in more highlights of London, cycling down The Mall, past St. James Park, waving goodbye to the horses standing guard at Downing Street and turning the corner to see Westminster and Big Ben striking noon. We crossed Westminster Bridge, taking some photos of the London Eye, and continued to follow the river to Tower Bridge. We stopped for lunch at Greenwich and then cycled out of London towards Dartford, our destination for the first day. It was a leisurely 50km bike ride, and a beautiful day. We left London with memories of blue skies, sunshine and 27°C.
We had arranged to stay at Andrea’s house on our first night. We didn’t know him yet but had connected with him through Warmshowers.org, a community for people offering a place to stay to passing cycle tourers. We were a little apprehensive as we had never done this before, but arriving at Andrea’s lovely house, we instantly felt comfortable. He was a great guy with a keen interest in cycling. He had even researched our favourite meal on our website, and so had cooked us a delicious tuna pasta. We had an early night and got up at 6am the next morning to cycle out together. Andrea took a detour to cycle for 15km with us before cycling to work. It was a great start to the day, and we were a bit sad to say goodbye, but happy to have experienced such warm hospitality, thank you Andrea!
Monday was another hot day, and thanks to our early start, we made good progress through the countryside of Kent. It was a 60km day, and we arrived at our campsite at 2pm, got our sleeping mats out and had a nap, as we felt pretty tired from all the excitement of the first few days! One more day of cycling and then we will take the ferry from Dover to Calais on Wednesday morning.